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ERCOT warns of potential for 'emergency operations,' asks Texans to conserve energy

Electric meters are pictured at an apartment in East Riverside that was affected by local power outages after storms on Sept. 7, 2022, in Austin. Michael Minasi / KUT News
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
Electric meters are pictured at an apartment in East Riverside that was affected by local power outages after storms on Sept. 7, 2022, in Austin. Michael Minasi / KUT News

The state's grid operator is worried about how much reserve electricity will be available in the event of higher than expected demand or a loss in power supply. An imbalance in supply and demand can damage the grid and lead to blackouts.

The state grid operator is calling on Texans to reduce electricity use until 10 p.m. Thursday, as it forecasts more energy demand than supply. There's a "high potential to enter emergency operations this evening," it said.

That’s the first time this summer ERCOT has used that language. There were three calls for voluntary conservation this summer, including two in the past week, but this request was more urgent.

ERCOT's demand forecast predicted that demand could surpass supply around 7 p.m.

ERCOT also called for conservation on the part of large electric customers that have volunteered to lower their energy use in these types of situations.

The conservation requests show the grid operator is worried about how much reserve electricity will be available to the grid in the event of higher than expected demand or a loss in power supply. An imbalance in supply and demand can damage the grid and lead to long-term blackouts.

The conservation call comes as a summer of record-breaking heat has led to at least 10 new all-time peak demand records for ERCOT.

Joshua Rhodes, an energy analyst at UT Austin, offered some tips on how people can reduce energy use and help protect grid stability.

"Maybe don't start that load of laundry until 10 o'clock or so. And if it's safe to do, maybe have it at just a degree or two warmer," he said. "One of the tricks people can do is actually pre-cool their home. So cool it down a little further earlier in the day and then let the thermostat go up a few degrees so that the temperature stays comfortable.”

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